Monday, October 31, 2011

Dear Snow,

We interrupt your regularly scheduled Monday post for this important message:

Dear Snow,

I never thought I would have to write a letter like this to you. We have had many happy years together, filled with laughs, sparkling days, and quiet nights. I’ll admit, we have had our tough times. I know that I certainly have had my fair share of restless, cold nights, and sore muscles from having to clean up after you. But even when things got tough, and everyone said I should give up on you…I never did, I’ve always defended you and your often unreasonable actions.

But this time is different. I don’t think I can forgive you this time.

There’s no going back for us after what you have done.

I don’t even understand why you would do it. You never have before. You even made yourself look bad by ruining your yearly debut, and you increased others’ distrust and dislike for you.

And I have to admit; even I could forgive all that. I could even forgive the fact that, because of you, my family and many others will not have power for several days. I could maybe even learn to deal with the huge mess and misery that you caused all over Berks County.

But this,

This, I can not forgive you for.

You took away Fall from me; my favorite season, which I barely got to appreciate. You ruined all of the beautiful leaves, pumpkins, and mums. You made me go straight to my winter jacket rather than just a sweatshirt and scarf. Even my mom, who has always welcomed you into our home so graciously, said that this weekend was meant for bike rides, not shoveling snow. You hijacked my favorite season and turned it into something cold and troublesome. And that is unforgiveable.

Were you jealous of what Fall and I had together? Is that why you did it? Cause if so, all you did was make me not trust you and have an even greater respect, appreciation, and love for Fall.

Or did you just want the attention? Because then you certainly achieved your goal.

But just remember, that as you bask in all your Snowtober glory, you have forever lost a faithful and loving companion because of your selfish ways.

Sincerely, Mandy

Friday, October 28, 2011

Taking Back Fall: Playlist and Peanuts

Since we are apparently in store for some winter weather this weekend (even though it's October), I thought I would put together and post a Fall Playlist. I plan on listening to it this weekend in protest of Mother Nature. I'm a true rebel. Just like Linus.

If you would like to join me in my act of insurgeance, you can listen to each song individually, or listen to the entire playlist on Spotify, here.
  1. Nat King Cole – Autumn Leaves
  2. She & Him – You Really Got a Hold on Me
  3. Green Day – Wake Me Up When September Ends
  4. Cassino – The River
  5. Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald– Autumn In New York
  6. Death Cab for Cutie – Underneath The Sycamore
  7. Coldplay – Yellow
  8. Bonejangles And His Bone Boys – Remains Of The Day (via The Corpse Bride)
  9. Band of Horses – On My Way Back Home
  10. Catherine O'Hara – Sally's Song (I also highly recommend the Fionna Apple version)
  11. Frank Sinatra – Witchcraft
  12. Feist – Graveyard
  13. Modest Mouse – Autumn Beds
  14. Rachael Yamagata – I'm Going to Go Back There Someday
  15. Vince Guaraldi Trio – Great Pumpkin Waltz (It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!)
In another display of rebellion, I plan on cozying up with a blanket and some hot apple-cider to watch It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! right here, since I unfortunately had to miss it on television last night.

Who's with me? Together we can take back the night season!


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

New Fall Shows: Once Upon a Time

If you have read this blog, it’s no secret that I’m a big LOST fan (and for the record, I loved the finale, it wouldn’t be LOST if we weren’t left with a few a questions).

But I should also warn you that I have a tendency to be one of those super annoying “happily ever after” saps that most people would like to hit over the head with a copy of Grimm’s Fairy Tales.  

All of this together means that I have discovered the perfect television show for me:


“Once Upon A Time is, at its core, a story about hope. ‘For us, that’s what a fairytale is. It’s that ability to think your life will get better. It’s why you buy a lottery ticket—because if you win you get to tell your boss that you’re quitting and you get to move to Paris or wherever and be who you always wanted to be. And that’s Cinderella, right? One day she’s sweeping up and the next she’s going to the ball. Adam and I just wanted to write about something hopeful that for one hour a week allows one to put everything aside and have that feeling that your dreams just may come true.’ - Edward Kitsis, Co-Creator/Executive Producer

Emma Swan’s life has been anything but a fairytale. A 28-year-old bail bondsperson, she’s been taking care of herself since she was abandoned as a baby. But when Henry—the son she gave up 10 years ago—finds her, everything changes. Henry is desperate for his mom’s help and thinks that Emma is actually the long, lost daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming. Yes, the actual Snow White and Prince Charming. Even stranger, Henry believes that Storybrooke, the sleepy New England town he calls home, is really part of a curse cast by the Evil Queen, freezing fairytale characters in the modern world with no memory of their former selves.

Of course the seen-it-all Emma doesn’t believe a word, but when she gets to Storybrooke, she can’t help sensing that everything’s not quite what it seems. As Henry shows Emma around with the help of his fairytale book, the town, and its inhabitants like Henry’s therapist Archie Hopper and the enigmatic Mr. Gold, seem just strange enough to set off her already suspicious nature. She becomes even more concerned for Henry when she meets his adopted mother, Regina, who he suspects is none other than the Evil Queen herself!

Storybrooke is a place where magic has been forgotten—but is still powerfully close—and happily ever after seems just out of reach. In order to understand where the fairytale world’s former inhabitants came from, and what ultimately led to the Evil Queen’s wrath, you’ll need a glimpse into their previous lives. But it might just turn everything you’ve ever believed about these characters upside-down.

Meanwhile, the epic battle for the future of all worlds, modern and fairytale alike, is about to begin. For good to win, Emma will have to accept her destiny and fight like hell.

Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, two master storytellers behind Lost and Tron: Legacy, invite everyone to brace themselves for a modern fairytale with thrilling twists and hints of darkness, brimming with wonder and filled with the magic of our most beloved stories.

‘We kept circling back to the idea of fairytales. The very first stories that you hear when you're a kid. They're full of magic and heroics and fear and joy. But we also found fairytales are full of all these unanswered questions. Like why is Grumpy grumpy? Why is Geppetto so lonely that he'd actually carve a little boy out of wood? And did the Evil Queen really try to kill Snow White simply because of vanity? With Once Upon A Time, we set out to explore those questions and not re-tell these stories but attempt to dig beneath what we all know and try to discover something new.’ - Adam Horowitz, Co-Creator/Executive Producer” –

This show is perfect for all the hopeful cynics out there (shush, they exist…trust me, I am one).

To prove my point, mon moment préféré in the premiere was when The Evil Queen declares she is sending everyone in the fairytale world to a place (wait for it…) “where there are no happy endings” (hey there Cynicism!).

And, why yes, she did in fact mean “our” world (like, the one we are in right now). Geesh, what a Debbie-Downer. What did we ever do to her anyway? I know that we tend to portray evil queens as, well, evil, and kind of, um, ugly, and heartless, and nobody ever likes them, but still. No happy endings? Has she never seen the show Happy Endings (she should have since they are on the same network)?

But I think Snow White has because she counters the queen by saying that “good always wins”. See? What did I tell ya? Optimism and Pessimism all in one!

But no matter if you are an optimist or a pessimist, this is a great show. The quality of acting is unsurpassable. I mean, Ginnifer Goodwin, Lana Parilla, Jennifer Morrison, and Robert Carlyle? Seriously, who the heck was the casting director and how can I thank him (probably not with a basket of apples though right?)? Not to mention, it’s getting some pretty great feedback from both critics and viewers.

I’m already looking forward to next Sunday at 8:00 when I can have another “one hour a week allows one to put everything aside and have that feeling that your dreams just may come true”

All photos from

Monday, October 24, 2011

New Music Monday: Favorite New Albums

Fall brings many a’wondrous thing. Leaves changing colors, pumpkins and apples galore, snuggle-y weather, and some great new music releases. Rather than featuring the latest artist I have been listening, I thought I would mention my favorite new albums from some of my already-favorite artists. So here you go (in no particular order):



Feist is probably most widely known for the hit “1234” from her 2007 album, The Reminder, which was featured on a popular iPod Nano commercial. If you are looking for another “1234”-type song, this album isn’t for you. If you are looking for an even more soulful album than the 2007 hit, you have come to the right place.

Having been recorded on a cliff in Big Sur, it almost seems as if the ocean winds have seeped into Metals. Some songs are bare and simple with just Feist’s sweet voice and a guitar, others consist of rising melodies, percussion, and strings. Each song on its own takes you on a journey, one that you don’t really want to come back from, but woven together, the album takes you straight to those famous rocky cliffs, and let’s you stay there. But my favorite song, by far, is Cicadas and Gulls.  Described as “the early morning song”, it is a song for sunrises and sweet goodbyes.

It is clear by Metals that Feist’s continuing evolution as an artist means that we can only expect increasingly wonderful music from her.



Anyone who was over the age of 8 in the 90’s has a strong fondness for blink-182. Their music was a late 90’s staple, hands-down one of the defining bands for that time period. Since then, these guys have been through a lot while on an indefinite (now finite) hiatus, including side-projects and a plane crash.

Now back and raring to go with the album Neighborhoods, it’s clear that I’m not the only one who did some growing-up since the last blink album. This album showcases the best of the boys that we knew and loved years ago, but it has a more mature sound than what we’ve seen from them in the past.

Welcome back to the neighborhood. It was worth the wait.

ColdplayMylo Xyloto


Do I really need to explain this one?

It’s Coldplay.

It’s Coldplay doing a concept album.

It’s Coldplay doing a “love story with a happy ending” in a “dystopian-urban environment” concept album.

It’s Coldplay doing a “love story with a happy ending” in a “dystopian-urban environment” concept album, inspired by 1970’s New York City graffiti.

It’s Coldplay doing a “love story with a happy ending” in a “dystopian-urban environment” concept album, inspired by 1970’s New York City graffiti, that just dropped today and I’m already in love.

What more explanation do you need?

Oh, okay, fine, here:

I think Rollingstone put it best when it described the album as "a bear-hug for bear-market society".

She & HimA Very She & Him Christmas

Again, this was just released today and I feel that there is no greater explanation for its wonderfulness other than the fact that it is Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward singing Christmas songs. I’m a particular fan of the good ol’ classics on here: “Have Yourself and a Merry Little Christmas” and “The Christmas Song”

Let me reiterate: Zooey. Singing. Christmas Songs.

If you are one of those people right now saying either a. “But it’s October” or b. “I hate Christmas music”. I challenge you here and now to listen to the album first, then you can go ahead be a Grinch all you want

Florence + The MachineCeremonials


Okay, this one I am kind of cheating on since it doesn’t come out for another week still.

But, but, but I have already listened to “Shake It Out” and “What the Water Gave Me” about 100 times each already!

Florence Welch can do no wrong in my eyes. Lungs is hard to beat, but I will not be surprised if Ceremonials blows it out of the water. Then I can say the water gave me lungs (yea, I don’t know either…just go with it).

Honorable Mentions: Jack’s Mannequin’s People and Things (Andrew McMahon I will always cherish our time together, but you lost me along the way somewhere), MuteMath’s Odd Soul (good, but perfect example of a band that is failing to really evolve with each record), and Ryan Adams’ Ashes and Fire (simply on here because I heard it’s great, I just have listened to it yet)

What new albums have you heard and loved this fall?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Fall Recipes: Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes

About a year ago I discovered the website Bake It in a Cake. It is a cupcake-lover’s dream come true.

My favorite recipe from the site is a cream cheese cupcake with a mini pumpkin pie in the middle and cinnamon cream cheese frosting. do not look this fancy

It may as well be called “Mandy’s Dream Dessert”

It is also perfect for this time of year. And they are so gosh darn cute.

Behold my terrible frosting abilities

I can’t lie though, these little guys are time-consuming. But it’s all worth it when someone says “These are the best cupcakes in the world!”

Here is the recipe, and be sure to check out Bake It in a Cake for more fun cupcake creations.

For the pumpkin pies you’ll need:

1 batch of your favorite pie crust dough (Don’t have a favorite? Use pre-made refrigerated dough, it will work well too.)

1 15 oz. can pumpkin pie filling, prepared according to the can’s
directions (or you can make your pie filling from scratch, you
overachiever, you—either way, you’ll need enough for one pie).

For the cupcakes you’ll need:

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature

8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature

1 1/2 c. granulated sugar

3 eggs

2 t. vanilla

2 t. baking powder

1/2 t. baking soda

1/2 t. salt

1 1/3 c. whole milk

2 1/2 c. flour

For the buttercream you’ll need:

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature

8 oz cream cheese, room temperature

2 c. powdered sugar

1 c. Hershey’s cinnamon chips (or any cinnamon chips you like)

splash of whole milk


Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees (F).

First, prepare the pumpkin pies. Mix up the pumpkin pie mix according
to the can’s directions (or make your own-fancy!). Roll out the pie
crust dough and cut it into small circles that are large enough to cover
the bottom and sides of mini cupcake tins (I used the opening of a
small juice glass as a cutter).

Press the dough into the lightly greased mini cupcake tins, and then
fill them with the pumpkin pie mix. (Don’t go all the way to the top,
the filling will expand a little while baking.)

Bake the pies for about 7 minutes at 425 degrees (F), and then turn the
oven down to 350 degrees (F) and bake them for another 10 minutes or
so, until the crust is brown and the filling is completely set.

After taking them out of the oven, cool them on a wire rack for about
10 minutes, then take them out of the pan and allow them to cool
further while you mix up the batter.

For the cupcake batter, combine the butter and the cream cheese
together on medium speed for about 90 seconds—you want the ingredients
to be well incorporated. Then mix in the sugar until the mixture is
fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and then the vanilla, baking soda,
baking powder, and salt. Then mix in the milk and the flour,
alternating between the two ingredients. Scrape down the sides and
bottom of the bowl, to make sure everything is getting well-mixed—beat
again on med-high speed for about a minute. It should be smooth and

Spoon a heaping tablespoon of batter into regular-sized, paper-lined
cupcake tins. Plop a cooled pumpkin pie into the center, and press
gently into the batter. GENTLY. You don’t want it to touch to the bottom
of the pan.

Cover the pies with another heaping tablespoon of batter, so the top and sides are completely covered.

Bake at 350 degrees (F) for about 25 minutes, until the cake is set and
the edges and tops of the cupcakes have turned golden brown.

Allow them to cool in the cupcake tray for atleast 10 minutes before
moving to a wire rack—they’ll be a little fragile at first.

Once the cakes are cool, frost ‘em!

To make the buttercream, melt down the cinnamon chips with a splash of
whole milk. Pop ‘em in the microwave for about 45 seconds on high. Stir
until all the chips are melted, and allow it to cool a bit while you
whip up the rest of the frosting (you can put the bowl in the fridge,
it’ll cool faster that way, and the milk will keep it from

Cream together the butter and cream cheese until they’re well
incorporated. Then whip in the powdered sugar, a cup at a time, until
the mixture is smooth and creamy. With the mixer on low, drizzle in the
cooled cinnamon chip “ganache” (if it’s too hot it’ll melt the
buttercream and ruin it—you don’t want that). Put in about half, then
stop to taste it and decide if you’d like to add more. Some like it
strong, others like it milder.

If you have any pie crust left over, roll it out and cut smaller discs
and sprinkle them with a little bit of cinnamon and sugar. Bake ‘em
for about 10 minutes at 350 and look at that, a cute and tasty cupcake

You can also try candied pecans or a drizzle of caramel on top. Tasty!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Bill Cunningham New York

I recently watched the documentary Bill Cunningham New York.


I spent half of the film smiling, and the other half wishing I could reach through the screen and give Bill Cunningham a big ol’ bear hug.

Meet the new love of my life

I have never seen someone is more humble, content, or tolerant than this man.

He is going right to the top of my “Restored My Faith In Humanity List”


I can not recommend this documentary enough, or at least read the article Bill on Bill.

Also, make an effort to throw some documentaries into your rotation of rom-com’s and action flicks. They alter perspectives and expectations that we have about life. And it’s always enlightening and rewarding to get new and different insights.

Monday, October 17, 2011

New Music Monday: Agnes Obel

Another Monday. Another awesome little lady from overseas. Denmark to be exact.

 Photo by Mali Lazell in My Photos by

Agnes Obel’s debut album Philharmonics was released in several European countries one year ago, and it only took 4 months for it to become a certified Double-Platinum album. Shortly after that, Agnes Obel made her US debut.

What drew me in when I first heard her song Riverside (on Revenge…which you need to see if you haven’t yet) was how haunting both her voice and piano melodies were. Haunting in such a beautiful way that it was almost reminiscent of a lullaby…but it was like a grown-up lullaby.

I was not disappointed when I listened to all of the other songs on Philharmonics since they all have that same simple, but lingering, feel to the melodies and lyrics. I was also pleasantly surprised to see that several songs on the album are simply instrumental pieces featuring only the piano.

This became very fitting after I later learned that Agnes herself has said: “I put a long time before writing texts because the music seems to tell already a story, to project images….The piano and the singing are two equal things to me – maybe not inseparable but very connected. You can say they are like two equal voices."  

And I do find that both her voice and her piano are equal voices, coming together to tell one story in her songs. Even her instrumental pieces seem to communicate her message better than most words could.

To me, this album is a wonderful example of what music is at its core: A way to tell a story and share a sentiment using your melodies, your voice, and your words.

Monday, October 10, 2011

New Music Monday: Laura Marling

Laura Marling is a folk singer from across the pond.

She's been making a name for herself in England since before she was even old enough to go in the clubs where she performed.

So it shouldn't be a surprise that she has three full-studio albums and she is only 21 years old, but every time I listen to her wise-beyond-her-years lyrics, I have to remind myself.

I also have to remind myself that I'm not listening to Joni Mitchell. The similarity in voice between the two folk singers, one renowned  and the other just starting to be introduced to the world, is astounding in my opinion. 

But don't just take my word for it. Listen for yourself.

Friday, October 7, 2011

We Wait for Steve

I realize that almost everyone is writing about the legacy of Steve Jobs, which is a true testament to how much this man (who most have never met) has touched all of our lives, but I don’t think enough can really be said, so I wanted to throw in my two cents too.

Steve Jobs leans against his wife, Laurene Powell Jobs

Like many others, I learned of his passing on my iPhone, a device that he created. It was then with bittersweet feelings that I watched over the next few hours as the top trend on Twitter rotated between “RIP Steve Jobs”, “iSad”, “Thank You Steve”, and “Think Different”. I can’t think of a more fitting tribute for someone who strove to make sure we all had the world available at our fingertips.

The creative-beyond-belief mind of this genius of a man has literally transformed our society, for the better. He has dreamt up and created devices that most of us could have never imagined. He opened up a whole new playground for us to enjoy on a daily basis.

But it’s more than that. He gave us new ways to connect and stay connected to people. Rather than lamenting the fact that I can no longer play a board game, share music, cook, or enjoy a beer with my brothers as often as when we all lived in the same state, I celebrate that we can play scrabble, send pictures of our latest dinner invention or brewery find, and share music through our Apple devices that Steve created. He has provided us with new ways to experience and enjoy not only new things in the world, but the same old staples in our lives, like family and friends.

But perhaps an even greater contribution of his is the fact that he has  instilled in society the philosophy to “think different” and “never settle”. A man who was forced to drop out of college because he could not afford the expense of it, became a symbol for “if you work hard enough, and you believe in it, you can achieve it”, inspiring many to not give up on their dreams.

He also single-handedly (in my opinion) made technology and being a “nerd” cool. A society that once viewed tinkering with computers and other devices as “geeky” has been transformed into one that waits with bated-breath for the next Apple conference or the launch of the next iDevice, we wait in lines that wrap around street blocks to be the first one with the new iPhone, iPad, etc., in short----

We wait for Steve.

We owe a great deal to Steve, I know I do, and I think we will always be waiting for him.

In the meantime, I am going to try to live my life according to this:

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs, Stanford Commencement Speech, 2005

Photo courtesy of Yahoo News

Monday, October 3, 2011

New Music Monday: The Joy Formidable

I’ve really been feelin’ the girl power bands lately for some reason. So, this week’s girl-fronting kick*ss band is The Joy Formidable.

The Joy Formidable is another band that iTunes has been recommending to me for awhile now, but I just never got around to checking them out.

Fast-forward to a few weeks ago when I witnessed their performance on the Conan show, and as Conan O’Brien himself said- it was sheer madness.

Side Note: I highly recommend checking out the documentary Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop. Hilarious and poignant at the same time.

The Joy Formidable is a three-piece band originating from North Wales and is reminiscent of Passion Pit (they did after all tour together), but they unquestionably have their own unique sound (think 80’s Brit rock meets modern alternative rock, heavy on the guitar).

This is surely a band to keep your eyes on.